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Executive Director – ACLU of Minnesota

Posted 2 years ago
About ACLU of Minnesota

For nearly 100 years, the ACLU has been at the forefront of every major civil liberties fight in our country’s history. Whether it’s reducing the prison and jail population, achieving full equality for the LGBTQ community, reducing immigration detention, or ending unjust laws that strip people of their fundamental right to vote, the ACLU takes up the toughest civil liberties issues to defend all individuals from government abuse and overreach. With ACLU affiliate offices in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, the ACLU fights tirelessly to defend our rights in the courts, influence public policy, and empower communities to advance rights for all. Founded in 1952 as the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Minnesota is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, public interest organization dedicated to the defense and expansion of civil liberties and civil rights throughout the state of Minnesota through litigation, lobbying, and community engagement.

For more information on ACLU of Minnesota (ACLU-MN), please visit their website.

The Opportunity

The ACLU-MN is seeking an Executive Director with proven management experience, preferably in the nonprofit sector, who can bring a clear vision to execute on the mission of the organization. The Executive Director must demonstrate a history of incorporating equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging (EDIB) principles in all aspects of an organization’s work. They must foster partnerships with communities most impacted by civil liberties and civil rights injustices (including Black, indigenous, and people of color, and low-income communities); demonstrate strong organizational acumen; have outstanding communication skills for leadership both within and outside of the organization; and develop and maintain relationships that ensure financial health and stability.

The ideal candidate should have demonstrated management experience and the ability to bring a strong vision that serves the mission and values of the ACLU-MN. Key elements of the role include:

Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (EDIB Leadership)

  • Champion and value equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging (EDIB) with the Board of Directors and staff as the organization increasingly strives to reflect the communities it serves.
  • Exhibit a high-level of cultural competency and sensitivity to work with a diverse team and effectively partner with historically marginalized communities.
  • Provide a personal approach that values the individual and respects differences of race, ethnicity, age, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, religion, ability, and socio-economic circumstance.
  • Create a work environment that recognizes and respects the diversity and individuality of each employee.
  • Regularly assesses how the ACLU-MN is incorporating EDIB principles and best practices internally and externally.

Organizational Management

  • Implement best practices for effective organizational management, including practices that assess the effectiveness of projects undertaken by the ACLU-MN, as developed and tested by other ACLU affiliates and similar advocacy organizations.
  • Oversee fiscal planning, budgetary planning, and oversight and human resources.
  • Ensure that revenue streams are diverse and replenished.
  • Ensure that the Board is kept fully informed on the condition of the organization and that Board meetings and Board committees operate effectively and efficiently.

Staff Leadership

  • Recruit, train and lead a diverse staff that serves civil liberties/civil rights with enthusiasm and deep understanding of the mission of the ACLU-MN.
  • Motivate and maintain a cohesive staff, ensuring that there is strong internal communication, coordination, and accountability.
  • Proven track record of developing staff to take on managerial and leadership roles.
  • Recognize and commit to providing staff with regular professional development opportunities.
  • Supervise, lead, inspire and mentor staff to meet its priorities, strategic initiatives, and fulfill the organization’s mission.
  • Foster an environment of continuous improvement, learning, and effectiveness on all levels such that the ACLU-MN is recognized as a leading organization in all respects.
  • Establish a culture that motivates staff to come to work each day to provide the best service, growth opportunities, and value for the ACLU-MN.
  • Foster a supportive team-oriented environment where independent thinking is encouraged, and staff are held accountable to specific metrics and goals.
  • Work with staff members to establish goals for their respective departments and encourage and motivate staff to focus on the organization’s mission.
  • Support teamwork and ensure that staff has the resources needed to accomplish their goals.
  • Create an open, transparent, inclusive culture that invites conversation, enables staff to bring their true selves to work, and ensures personal growth and development.

Leadership and Vision

  • Build on past successes by inspiring the creation and implementation of new strategies that advance civil liberties/civil rights in the context of a challenging state and national political climate.
  • Assume the lead role in reaching out to like-minded peer organizations and leaders to develop strategic partnerships that advance ACLU’s core mission.
  • Serve as an articulate marketer, fundraiser, communicator, and spokesperson for the ACLU’s mission and programs.
  • Grow and expand the ACLU’s reputation and influence, provide clear vision and direction to guide programs.
  • Develop and maintain collaborative relationships with senior staff at the National ACLU and affiliates.
  • Work closely with the Board and staff to develop and periodically update the organization’s priorities, strategies, and policies, and to design and implement campaigns that support the successful achievement of strategic goals.
  • Continue and build on the use of integrated advocacy by which civil liberties/civil rights issues are addressed in a cross-disciplinary approach that embraces litigation, lobbying and public education.
  • Exhibit courage and clarity when addressing highly controversial and complex issues and lead the Board through thoughtful consideration of conflicting positions on those issues.
  • Guard the organization’s integrity, credibility, and non-partisanship by emphasizing these qualities in all aspects of the ACLU-MN’s work.

Fund Development

  • Lead staff and the Board in furthering a robust fundraising program that ensures the financial viability of the ACLU-MN, building and leveraging past successes that will continue important relationships.
  • Play an active role in recruiting and maintaining diversified donors to include foundations, individuals, and other giving entities.
  • Initiate funding opportunities with individual donors and foundations that ensure a constant new stream of financial support that builds long-term stability.
  • Anticipate funding needs and engage program staff as needed to ensure that staff have the resources they need to be successful and to maintain continuity of important initiatives.
  • Inspire, cultivate, steward, and solicit a dedicated group of major donors to the organization.

Public Representation

  • Represent the priorities of the ACLU-MN as the lead official representative of the organization to the press and public, articulating the organization’s positions and communicating its mission to increase the organization’s visibility and public’s understanding of the work.
  • Formulate and articulate to the membership, Board, staff and the media a clear and accessible understanding of the ACLU-MN’s strategies, goals, and positions on issues.
  • Maintain and encourage relationships with legal and social science scholars, educators, activists, civil liberties/civil rights and social change advocates so that the Board and staff have the expertise and knowledge they need to confront a wide range of policies and challenges.
  • Maintain and encourage relationships with members of the press and the social media community.
  • Lead a communications strategy that values a diverse set of voices to represent the organization’s positions on its work.

Board Partnership and Communication

  • Partner with the Chair of the Board to plan for Board meetings and updates, providing ongoing reporting on overall organizational performance and initiatives.
  • Collaborate with key Board committees on a range of strategic initiatives, including identifying and orienting new Board members, fundraising, and supporting governance activities.
  • Inform staff of Board policies and decisions and ensure that they are implemented in a timely and consistent manner.
Candidate Profile

The ideal candidate will have most, if not all, of the following professional and personal qualities, skills, and characteristics:

  • Commitment to the mission and principles of the ACLU, including characteristics described in the Candidate Profile.
  • Seven plus years of professional experience required with prior nonprofit experience preferred. Proven managerial, problem-solving, strategic thinking, leadership development, and human resource experience in the private, not-for-profit, and/or public sectors.
  • Proven fundraising and financial management experience with a solid track record of success.
  • Credibility and experience to connect the ACLU to resources and opportunities outside the organization.
  • Proven and successful track record in creating and implementing programs; experience creating partnerships and collaborations.
  • A history of communicating effectively in writing and verbally, including excellent public speaking skills for both formal and extemporaneous presentations; ability to represent the ACLU to a broad public.
  • A record of success working in partnership with a Board and staff of diverse personalities and talents.
  • Strong work ethic and the ability to interact effectively with volunteers from divergent geographical and socioeconomic backgrounds.
  • Ability to work both independently and as a member of a team, and to have excellent problem solving and decision-making skills.
  • Ability to work in a high-pressure environment and to multi-task.
  • Creative, result-oriented, self-starting, willing to learn and able to manage an aggressive schedule, working beyond 9am-5pm as needed.

Personal Characteristics or Attributes

  • Personally committed to advancing the ACLU’s values, mission, goals, and programs, with an understanding of the range of civil liberties issues and their implications.
  • A dedicated leader and representative who can translate vision into action; someone who is passionate about networking and representing the organization to critical constituencies including ACLU members, the public, government, and the media.
  • Someone who is inspiring, able to conceptualize and express ideas, and anticipate and act on events which may create opportunities for the ACLU.
  • A strategic, resourceful, and politically astute individual; someone who understands the value of creating partnerships with other organizations as a way of accomplishing the ACLU’s goals.
  • Someone who can prioritize multiple activities and responsibilities, a self-starter and finisher.
  • A team player who inspires collaboration and functions decisively; flexible and well organized.
  • One who shares information easily, listens as well as gives advice, and respects and enhances the abilities of others.
Compensation and Benefits

Compensation for this position will be between $130,000 and $160,000, depending on the candidate’s experience. Benefits include health, dental, disability, and life insurance, retirement plan, paid vacation, holidays, sabbatical, and sick leave.


Trisha Sutrisno and Amber Gomes of Koya Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role please submit your materials here or email and directly. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.


The ACLU is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and encourages applications from all qualified individuals including women, people of color, directly-impacted persons, persons from historically marginalized, oppressed, or underrepresented communities, persons with disabilities or in need of accommodations, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, non-binary, or non-conforming individuals.

About Koya Partners

Koya Partners, a part of the Diversified Search Group, is a leading executive search and strategic advising firm dedicated to connecting exceptionally talented people with mission-driven clients. Our founding philosophy—The Right Person in the Right Place Can Change the World—guides our work as we partner with nonprofits & NGOs, institutions of higher education, responsible businesses, and social enterprises in local communities and around the world.

For more information about Koya Partners, visit

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